FCA penalties could double by August

Healthcare providers that violate the False Claims Act (FCA) could face twice as much in financial penalties if a recent regulation change from the Railroad Retirement Board is any indication.

The little-known agency increased the minimum penalty for FCA violations from $5,500 per claim to $10,781 per claim, and increased the maximum penalty from $11,000 to $21,563. The adjustments were made as part requirements under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which called for inflation adjustments to FCA penalties. Each agency is required to publish proposed increases no later than July 1 in order to take effect on Aug. 1.

The rule change created a buzz among healthcare attorneys who saw the RRB's adjustment as a sign of what's to come from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The increases were far more than many expected, according to David Honig, an attorney with Hall, Render, Killian Heath & Lyman PC, and "there is no reason to believe other agencies won't do exactly the same thing."

Scott D. Stein, an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP, indicated the regulation "is likely a preview of rules to be announced over the next several months by DOJ, HHS, DOD and other agencies." Meanwhile, attorneys at Dinsmore & Shohl urged providers to "develop and implement a strong compliance plan."

To learn more:
- read the regulation
- here's the Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman PC post
- read the Sidley Austin LLP post
- see the Dinsmore & Shohl post